25 Ways to Protect the Marine Environment
by Carol Cramer-Burke, Program Director, S. E. A.
* When swimming, snorkeling or diving, enjoy the view but don't ever touch or stand on coral. The tiny coral polyps are very fragile and can be easily destroyed.
* Don't take shells from the beach - they can serve as homes for crabs, octopus and other marine creatures. Shell fragments make up a large part of our beautiful sandy beaches. U.S. Customs will confiscate sea shells and sand found in luggage.
* Enjoy the beach but don't leave litter behind! Trash left on the beach is easily washed or blown into the ocean where it can strangle or suffocate sea turtles, birds and other creatures.
* Keep automobiles off of the sand. Green, hawksbill and leatherback sea turtles nest along our shores. Cars compact sand, crush nests and destroy vegetation that is needed to provide appropriate habitat for nesting turtles.
* Plant trees! Trees help to capture rainfall and reduce erosion of sediment into streams and ocean waters.
* Use herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers sparingly on your lawn and garden and always follow manufacturer directions for use. If not used properly these chemicals will wash into the ocean where they harm corals and sea life.
* Unpaved roads and driveways are a major source of sediment. Consider gravel, concrete, asphalt or permeable paving for your driveway.
* Global climate change and sea surface temperature increases are a major threat to corals. Anything you do to reduce carbon emissions will help.
* Replace your electric water heater with a solar system.
* Consider solar or wind generation of electric power for your home or business.
* Look for Energy Star certification when replacing appliances.
* Dry clothes on the line whenever possible.
* Use cold water instead of hot whenever possible to reduce energy consumption.
* Save gas used by your car by combining errands into one trip, keep tires properly inflated and have your car serviced regularly. This saves money too!
* Keep your car in good working order. Oil and other fluids that leak onto roadways are readily washed into the sea where they harm corals and sea life.
* Boaters, keep your engines in good working order to be certain that petrochemicals are not being leaked or pumped into the sea.
* Boaters, please use pump-out stations for disposal of wastewater. When clearing land conserve as many trees as possible and don't clear a greater area than necessary.
* Follow best management practices to reduce erosion from cleared land. Erosion control matting, silt fences, and other practices help to retain precious top soil on your land.
* Use reusable shopping bags to keep plastic bags out of our solid waste stream. Leatherback sea turtles mistake plastic bags for jellyfish, their primary food source. When the bags become lodged in their throat or stomach death may result.
* Have your septic tank pumped every five to eight years, depending upon the size of the tank and number of persons residing in your home. When septic tanks are full or poorly functioning the untreated waste will be washed into streams and ocean waters causing a threat to human health and causing harm to corals, fishes and other marine creatures.
* Chlorine bleach should be used very sparingly! It destroys beneficial bacteria in septic systems, causing malfunctions.
* Dispose of used fishing line properly - birds, sea turtles and other marine creatures can be killed or wounded when entangled in line.
* Farmers, keep livestock out of streams and guts to prevent wastes from being washed into the sea.
* Make environmentally friendly choices for household cleaning and save money too! Baking soda, white vinegar, rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide and lemon juice have far less environmental impact than expensive commercial cleansers.
The St. Croix Environmental Association (SEA) celebrates 25 years in 2011. Formed in 1986 by a small group of dedicated and conservationminded folks, the organization has managed environmental education, advocacy and conservation programs since it's inception. SEA's directors, staff and members have worked on many controversial issues over the years such as land and water use planning, wastewater treatment and reclamation, industrial pollution, alternative energy and much more. The organization's education programs serve youth and adults in schools, summer camps, and at special events. A huge mangrove restoration project at Salt River Bay after hurricane Hugo is one of SEA's outstanding accomplishments. Through the V.I. ReLeaf Program, SEA also planted hundreds of trees at St. Croix's schools, parks, roadsides, and public housing developments.